I love puzzles, maybe because they require cooperation, perseverance, and attention to detail. Yet, my favorite part of building a puzzle is watching the big picture emerge from tiny, similarly shaped pieces that by themselves are somewhat insignificant.
Several weeks ago, our family attempted a two-thousand-piece Star Wars puzzle. Our glass coffee table became the gathering hub for six straight days. Like most people, we built the perimeter before tackling some of the internal shapes. Then, at times enthusiastically, others drudgingly, we scrutinized the indistinguishable pieces that made up the sky, tiny spaceships, and dark shadows.
Yet, when it was time to place the last piece, it became evident that we were still missing two pieces to our puzzle. Unsure if a dog ate them or if they were swallowed by the vacuum cleaner, we had to be OK with our final product… a completed puzzle with two empty spaces.
During our personal journey, we, too are puzzle makers as we connect the various fragmented pieces of our lives – our stories – allowing us to see our big picture. Taking time to put our pieces together helps us to better understand our actions, behaviors, and thoughts. When something clicks into place, we get an “aha” moment, allowing insight into an area of our present or past that before seemed incomplete.
Yet, like a cardboard puzzle, once we’ve put it all together, we, too, may have some missing pieces. There could be gaps in our past that we just can’t figure out, causing us to mindlessly search, hoping to discover that tiny bit of information. But do we really need to know everything? Can’t we still see the big picture without each tiny detail?
Compiling our puzzles also teaches us that once the puzzle’s complete, it no longer serves us. We don’t need to shellac it, place it in a frame, or hang it on our wall. Nor do we need to take it apart and then reassemble the pieces, retelling our stories. We can simply take one final look and then let it go.
But wait… aren’t our stories linked to tales of our past, things we don’t want to forget?
I’m not suggesting that we disregard the memories. However, I am proposing that we abandon the need to tell the same stories again and again in order to justify ourselves. No doubt some of the tales we cling to are tragic. Yet, keeping our stories as a means to explain our current identity is not healthy. Doing so keeps us stuck. And when we remain frozen in what was, we lack the ability to see who we can become. In essence we block beautiful possibilities from presenting themselves as we are too mired in yesterday to see what is available today.
But why can’t I keep my completed puzzle, just in case I want to revisit those stories, the ones that make me feel justified with my resentments, anger, or pain?
We can learn in so many ways. Hopefully, we’re benefitted from these stories, and now, we’re ready for new experiences from which to evolve. We absolutely have the right to return to what was and relive those lessons. However, do you really want to? Plus, remaining in the past can prevent us from seeing the amazing possibilities of tomorrow.
During these last weeks, we have been gifted unanticipated time to put together our puzzles. But now, as we begin to emerge into our new, shifted world, let’s acknowledge what we’ve gained from this process then discard our puzzles. After all, they no longer serve us.
Old stories keep us stuck and prevent us from elevating to the next level. Since we are blessed with a unique moment in time to propel forward, seek knowledge, and learn how we can collectively prosper and become better human beings, let’s forget about any missing puzzle pieces and release those stories that have kept us small.
Trust, let go, and allow… then we can live our greatest lives!